East Hampton resident Dell Cullum says he will not stop cleaning up the town—because somebody has to do it.
For the second time in three months, Mr. Cullum will lead a community cleanup project, this one on Napeague. It is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, at 9 a.m., with a Sunday rain date.
In time for the summer tourist season, volunteers will comb the Napeague stretch of Montauk Highway beginning at Cranberry Hole Road just east of Amagansett all the way east to the Montauk Highway split in the first-ever Napeague Sweep.
“Everybody’s getting used to seeing the crap that’s lined up along that highway,” said Mr. Cullum, a naturalist and professional photographer who also runs the website ImaginationNature.com. “I’m trying to keep our town clean,” he said, “and I’m going to keep doing it.”
In February, Mr. Cullum led dozens of volunteers on East Hampton’s first-ever Shoreline Sweep, a volunteer-driven cleansing of more than 20 miles of beach from Wainscott and Montauk. The effort amassed garbage and other debris weighing more than a ton that littered the beaches, trash consistently left behind by summer visitors and local residents. Litter collected by volunteers included burned wood, plastic bottles, beer bottles, cans, clothing, coffee cups and dozens of piles of dog waste, some of which was in Mutt Mitt plastic bags tossed into the dunes.
The dog waste issue upsets Mr. Cullum most of all. He said he has photographed dog owners throwing dog waste bags around on the beaches to avoid having to carry them to a trash bin. Some will not even pick up after their pets. Mr. Cullum posted his photos of the dog waste incidents on a website he started last summer called “Ugly Hamptons.”
“I don’t want dogs banned from the beach. I’m not a party pooper,” Mr. Cullum said last week. “I just think responsibility has to be a priority in every aspect of beach use, and it’s simple: Take out what you bring in. It’s either everybody gets on board or it can’t work.”
To promote awareness, Mr. Cullum has produced an internet film on the beach cleanup project. “Cleaning the Sands of Time: Shoreline Sweep 2014” can be viewed on YouTube and at ImaginationNature.com. Mr. Cullum is also trying to get the 27-minute film onto LTV and possibly have it run at the East Hampton movie theater as a public service announcement. The educational film spotlights local residents and experts who discuss the dangers of plastics and their effect on the marine ecosystem.
“We’re trying to get the word out. It’s not a happy situation.” Mr. Cullum said of the film, parts of which might be disturbing to some viewers. The movie shows images of dead wildlife, including a photo of a plastic soda cup cover impaled by a bird’s beak, ailing seals, overflowing trash cans spilled onto local beaches, and several photos of people flinging plastic bags filled with dog waste into the dunes.
“What an insult,” said an irritated Mr. Cullum. “I’m picking up their crap on the beach every day. It would be nice if everybody would just pick a little up each day. If everybody just does a little bit, it becomes a lot and that’s where it makes a difference.”
For more information on the Napeague Sweep and for questions about volunteering, visit ImaginationNature.com.